Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Can't the government afford an English editor?

This was sent out for Lunar New Year. A friend posted it to Facebook. It was kindly meant, but you'd think the Mayor's office would have an English editor on tap to clean it up and make it look professional. Really.
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25 comments:

Kaminoge said...

It isn't so much the English that I find annoying than the assumption that to be an immigrant in the city in Taichung means you must be a foreign-born wife (not clearly stated but very strongly implied) who has been given the responsibility for raising the children and taking care of your in-laws. Well-meaning, perhaps, but also very revealing.

Is there a Vietnamese version?

Hans Liao said...

The most ironic thing is that Jason used to be a foreign expat who represents the government. He was the British consulate for quite a few years I believe.

Marc said...

Maybe they did have an English-language editor and this is the improved final version.

Jenna Cody said...

No, clear they can't to afford many money for editor works.

It was kind of adorable, though.

Anonymous said...

Not surprised. They make mistakes in Mandarin too.

Anonymous said...

This letter let me very touched. It let me feel warm to the heart of my bottom.

Readin said...

It may have been kindly meant, but that line, "Taichung City Government is willing to play a significant role as your second family member in Taiwan." is pretty creepy.

Anonymous said...

Probably edited by the mayor's young college age relative whose "English is very good" LOL

les said...

Yes yes, I'm under immense strain looking after my wife and being abused by my crude in-laws. Can I have a script for medical marijuana please?

Really... so much condescension in one short letter.

Anonymous said...

Everyone in Taiwan has:

1. A relative who is a "fluent English speaker".

2. A friend who is a "technology master and knows EVERYTHING about computers".

3. A magic travel agent who "gets the best deals".

4. A "really good friend" who is an insurance agent or fund manager.

Anonymous said...

No no, you creeps don't get it. Quick to complain, quick to criticise. Look folks: various editions of this letter were sent out to immigrant wives, and none of them are fluent English readers. So why are you complaning, this letter was not meant for you oh so superior white supremacist creeps who give xpats a bad name where ever you wander. Fess up. You jumped the gun here.

Sign me

Richard in jolly old UK, happy here

Anonymous said...

Actually, as far as local Chinglish goes, this example is not too bad.

Perhaps in the interest of intercultural relations you could have said "What a nice message. Hopefully next year a foreigner will volunteer to help iron out the few small language errors."

Karl said...

Context, folks. Compared to most other Taichung (or Taiwan) government English-language docs, this is sterling.

David on Formosa said...

I'm curious as to whether the mayor would have done better or worse if he had written it himself. However, I presume he approved the final copy so it probably reflects his own English writing abilities.

Anonymous said...

They should have had a version in simplified Chinese, Vietnamese, Thai and other languages that target larger populations of "new immigrant" spouses. The fact that the letter was in English is actually a bit elitist on the government's part. The term "new immigrant" is primarily used for southeast Asian brides who take on ROC citizenship. Caucasians are simply "foreigners".

sonnyleonowen@hotmail.com said...

I read the letter twice, and still have problem understand what the Mayor intended to say.

It is not that there have absolutely no one good in English in Taiwan, it is just that they do not look for those multilingual experts, be it Taiwanese or Foreigners. Hard to believe but true, as this letter shows.

As for the part of the mayor was in British, well, it was because he climbed the political ladder, not because he was a British expert.

Robert Scott Kelly said...

Best error I have seen lately is at CKS Memorial, which is now affectionately called on the stone plaque introduction beside Liberty Arch, Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hell.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

First: Creepy yes...big brother says we're watching.

Second: Would the Toronto or Krakow mayor send something so farcical under his signature? Did Taipei or Kaohsiung send one? I'm pretty certain that doesn't even fall under municipal purview...it's federal?

Third: Wasn't this guy the foreign affairs minister? He obviously thinks he knows all, and has no minion willing to stand up to him

I wanted to return this letter showing the corrections with lot's of snark, and the above points to Hu ('s on first), but you know some lickspittle would be forced to read it and shred it, so his highness's eyes were not assaulted by an ungrateful guest. I hope this thing goes viral enough for it to pierce the chinese media. We all should really do this. One letter is worth many times it's number of emails to politicos. It is an embarrassment and an insult!

John Scott said...

Although not explicitly indicated, the message is obviously aimed at women from southeast Asia (primarily Burma, Cambodia, Vietnam) who are in agency-arranged marraiges with working-class Taiwanese men.

Mayor Hu knows, as everyone does, that neither these foreign women nor their Taiwanese husbands and in-laws are likely to be proficient in English, and so they are pretty unlikely to object to errors in English language usage in his mail-outs.

So Richard's "why waste $1000 on them?" attitude (above) is probably where the mayor's office is coming from.

In the future, if you could let him know in advance which of his mail-outs you want to publicize to the whole world on a blog, then I'm sure he could find the money for a proofreader somewhere in his expense account. :)

Derelict said...

Hu's on first haha That made my day, classic.

Jenna Cody said...

I am sure Mayor Hu has a member on his staff and he think his member can speak good English.

(I just have to add that one because of how often I get lines from my students like "I'm only a small manager, I just have two members" and "As a director, I have a very good relationship with my members" and "A good manager likes to play with his member").

I used to think that when I saw English like this - in any country - that the people involved must know there are mistakes, they must know it's not perfect or native-speaker fluent. That the problem must be that they don't want to spend the money on good editing, or they think it doesn't matter if there are a few mistakes. But no, after some time with my current company I've learned that no, some people (not all) actually believe that this *is* perfect, that they got their "fluent in English"...member...to write/edit it on top of their regular workload, and that therefore it must be correct. Then people with that attitude get all defensive when a native speaker points out that it isn't. It doesn't matter that the native speaker is almost certainly correct, or that generally in matters of communication, the native speaker should generally be trusted over the non-native speaker (with some exceptions - I know native speakers with horrific spelling and grammar).

Nope. Their "member" is correct, and the foreigner who points out the errors must be wrong. Doesn't matter that it's their native language.

I used to snark at people who made complaints like this but now, after a few experiences, I see their point.

Anonymous said...

We didn't get one in Taipei. However, after we got married, we got a helpful brochure from the city government explaining how to have sex.

1stCMalaysia said...

@Jean Cody,
You gave me a new perspective into this daily occurrence in Taiwan. It was kind of strange to me too, but looking from you perspective, and the fact that the "member" must be someone "well regarded", they feel the need to "save face". Perfect explaination.

They always kind of have a sense of self-abased when it comes to foreign language, thus a stronger defense mechanism.

Anonymous said...

When I registered our marriage in Taipei, we got a SOAP! That was so wrong...